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Election-law lawsuit by NH Democratic party to become federal case


September 01. 2017 11:08AM


CONCORD — A lawsuit by the N.H. Democratic party to block implementation of a new election law is about to become a federal case.

Lawyers for the defendants — Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald — filed court motions on Thursday to have the lawsuit removed from Superior Court in Nashua and transferred to U.S. District Court in Concord.

On the same day, the Democratic Party filed motions to have its lawsuit married to a virtually identical action filed by the League of Women Voters, increasing the likelihood that the lawsuits will be combined and heard in federal court.

The legal maneuvering sets the stage for a showdown over the controversial election law, SB3, passed by the Republican majority in the state Legislature in the spring, and signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu.

Opponents say new requirements in the law will unnecessarily complicate the registration and voting process, and disproportionately affect populations that have traditionally leaned toward Democratic candidates, including college students and minorities.

Backers of the law, including Sununu, say it will help ensure that the state’s same-day registration process is not abused to allow “drive-by voting” by non-residents like campaign workers and Massachusetts residents who want to vote in the New Hampshire primary.

The lawsuits filed by the Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters make virtually identical arguments, so efforts to combine the two come as no surprise, and election-related cases are often heard in federal court.


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